Xiaomi Mi 5C Unboxing, Hands-On First Impressions

Xiaomi Mi 5C Unboxing, Hands-On First Impressions

The 3rd Xiaomi Mi 5 model is the Mi 5C, slim & light with a full unibody with glass accents on the rear, it has the same 1080p 5.15-inch screen as the Mi 5. But this ones different, it’s powered by Xiaomi’s own in-house chipset the pinecone Surge S1, the first to be released. It’s a mid-range SoC with 8 cores (Cortex A53) 4 run at 2.2Ghz, the other cluster at 1.4Ghz built on a 28nm process.

The Mi 5C’s build is great, easily the best thing about this mobile so far is the finish. It’s rounded edges feel smooth in hand, it’s very light at only 134 grams and just 7.7mm thin. 5.15-inches mean it’s great for one-handed us.

The Mi 5C retails for around $240 USD on Aliexpress, I got mine from Goldway on Aliexpress. So it’s not exactly the cheapest mobile around but the build does fit the price. In the box you get a 12-volt fast charger and USB type-c cable and sim tool. No extras here like Mi Piston earphones, not even the premium mobiles from Xiaomi do.

Xiaomi Mi 5C specs:

  • 5.15″ IPS 1080p (Same as Mi 5/5S)
  • Xiaomi Surge S1 Octa-core CPU (A53 x 8)
  • LPDDR3 3GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC
  • 2860 mAH battery
  • Dual Band nano SIM. LTE/3G (Unknown network non-Chinese bands)
  • 12MP f2.2 rear camera (1080p max for now)
  • 8MP front f2.2 camera (720p)
  • Wireless AC, BT 4.1, GPS and GLONASS
  • 7.7mm thin
  • 134 grams

Xiaomi Mi5C release colours

The 1080p screen looks great, deep blacks, sharp and vivid colours. It’s a flagship-grade 1080p panel. The fingerprint works great, however unlike the Redmi series you have to first wake the device before it will read and unlock. I prefer the one shot approach, scan and unlock. But the scanner is accurate and fast to unlock.

ROM performance isn’t perfect, typical heavy MIUI RAM use often results in only 1.3GB free and you aren’t even multitasking. The Surge S1 SoC powers the UI quickly and its fluid, but now and then I did see some stutters, it must happen when the other cores are woken up? Most likely down to the software or CPU governor I believe.

The custom Surge S1 chipset in the Xiaomi Mi 5C can do 61k in Antutu, a score that is about the same as the Redmi 4X with it’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 14nm SoC. The Wireless AC is very quick, able to push over 200mbs upload and download where most mobiles max out around 100mbs on my 300mbit office line. LTE and 3G is supported, with unknown bands apart from 800Mhz, 1800Mhz or 2100Mhz my Mi5C is using here in Spain after I unlocked the bands (As in the video unboxing above)

The camera performance seems fine for stills, even producing some usable shots in low light. But the video mode is very poor, the camera maxes out at 1080p, no advertised 4k support yet even if the SoC schematics mentions 4k. And it can’t even record in 30fps. A “cinematic” 24 fps only, dipping to 23 or 22 fps in low light is pathetic. There is no excuse for this camera and chipset not being able to record in at least 30 fps. The autofocus in video is horrid! Pulsing in and out all the time when it has plenty of light to lock, I see why Xiaomi has tap to focus set by default and not CAF (Continuous Auto Focus). The front camera has no settings and 720p only despite the 8MP f2.2 camera.

So for now, my first impressions are as follows:

Mi 5C Pros:

  • Great build quality (Flagship level)
  • Bright and sharp 1080p screen
  • Deep blacks and vibrate colours
  • Fast charging support
  • Type-C port
  • Dual SIM support
  • Fast fingerprint unlock
  • Decent still camera performance
  • Lightweight and thin

Mi 5C Cons:

  • Full band supports must be unlocked first
  • Loudspeaker could be louder
  • Minor UI stutters and browser lag
  • Horrible auto-focus in video
  • Only 1080p max video recording resolution
  • 24fps 1080p, can’t manage 30fps
  • Front camera is limited to 720p with no settings
  • No NFC or MicroSD support.

My concern now is battery life, 28nm SoC isn’t exactly efficient compared to 14nm process of the Snapdragon 625 even if the performance is about that of SD625. I’ll be back with a full review later on this one. Hopefully, between now and my review Xiaomi pushes out some much-needed software updates with tweaks and fixes.

Questions?? Please post them here, not in YouTube as I’ll answer them here quicker.

Xiaomi Mi 5C unboxing images:

Profile photo of Chris G
Chinese tablet news, hands on videos and reviews of the latest Chinese tablets. I don't review or cover just anything, only tablets I think are good enough and worth the attention.

14 Comments

  1. Profile photo of mrobi

    Custom SOC also means no custom ROMs…

  2. Profile photo of Tony

    Other Euro reviewers have noticed the the 3/4 G bands are giving 2G speeds, so the phone is a beta product outside China at the moment. It is selling well in China with good reviews on JD.com.
    Software updates should cure everything, I guess, including the camera problems.

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Yes software should fix those issues. And I’m getting very good 4G speeds 50 Mbps download and 30mbps+ here in Spain very impressed with 4G speeds and also the wireless AC is faster than most phones that top out around 100mbits I’m getting over 200mbits which is very good.

      • Profile photo of Tony

        Excellent news on 4G. Thanks…..perhaps not a beta product, after all.

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          If they can fix the camera video performance and the minor lag it’s looking quite good really. Just working now on battery life and it seems okay so far.

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          Oh but 3G runs at 0.06 Mbps just tested it. Very bad. So only 4G is good, if you don’t have 4G coverage then this isn’t a phone to get if this can’t be fixed.

          • Profile photo of Blackburn

            Well that is shit, no reason to buy it. Design looks like the Meizu 6, really quite nice but if 3G is running at 2G speeds forgot it! I would rather have the Redmi 4X Snapdragon 625 14nm. Wait until the SD660 is out at 10nm that will be the best yet.

        • Profile photo of Blackburn

          It’s a beta product, first in-house SoC test from them and it looks like a failure outside of China.

      • Profile photo of Koala

        Also in Italy 4G is fine, but the problem is 3G: the phone show 3G and H+ icon but speed is like 2G. Can you test the speed in 3G?
        Thank you!

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          Okay tested 3G bands, yes it super slow like 2G. That is a big con!

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Oh, btw I would never trust those reviews on JD.com or other Chinese retailers especially when it comes to Xiaomi. They are known for giving their extreme fanboy club free review units in exchange for these fake positive reviews allover the net. It’s a shocking dishonest practice that happens everywhere in China, part of the reason I started this site to get past the BS. Manufacturers will often say here is the Mi 5S, please give it a positive review and maybe we will give you other phones we released.

      • Profile photo of Tony

        OK, I didn’t know that. Thanks. I assumed that a big popular site would not need to do such a thing.
        I always wait until I can see reviews I can trust. So, I await your view on this strange device; all design & no proper function? Surely not.

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          It’s looking very mixed, design, build and screen top notch. Super fast wifi and 4G, then 3G is horrible as well video from the camera. Battery life is looking like 2 days med use and 1 day heavy, about 7 hours screen on time at 50% At this stage it’s hard to recommend it unless the 3G and camera can be improved, which is possible via software updates.

          But I love this build, would like to see them use a snapdragon 660 or 625 in this and put the Mi5S camera in it.

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